'A declaration of war': Why France and Geneva are feuding over new motorway plans

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 14 Jan, 2020 Updated Tue 14 Jan 2020 16:23 CEST
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Opponents of the new motorway say it’s unnecessary and will cause pollution, while supporters argue that any attempt to stop the motorway would amount to a “declaration of war”.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently approved a motorway development between Machilly and Thonon-les-Bains. According to Le Parisien, the development will be targeted at ‘opening up the Chablais region’. 

Swiss authorities oppose the plan, saying it is unnecessary - particularly after the recent completion of the Léman Express rail network, which was built to decongest the entire region. 

Philippe d'Espine, spokesman for the city of Geneva, told Le Parisien that the French motorway plan was “nonsense”. 

“This highway section is really not essential and will directly compete with the Léman Express," he said. 

Tens of thousands of workers live in the region and commute into Geneva daily for work.

Almost half a million vehicles - 446,700 to be exact - crossed into Geneva each day in 2018, as estimated by the Canton of Geneva.

Nine out of ten of the 90,000 border workers who travel into Geneva do so by car. 

As reported by The Local in December 2019, the Léman Express cut travel times significantly for many workers while also reducing costs considerably. Geneva residents lost an estimated 138 hours per year due to traffic. 

READ: How the new Léman Express train link will ease Geneva's traffic woes 

But the opposition to the plan has not only come from the Swiss side of the border. French environmentalists have also spoken out against the plan, saying it would unnecessarily reduce pollution in the area. 

READ: Why Switzerland's roads are among the safest in the world

French politician Christian Monteil, who has campaigned for the new motorway for over a decade, not stopping to mince his words as he spoke out against the Swiss authorities.

Monteil said any attempt to stop the motorway would be considered a “declaration of war”. 

“If an appeal is filed, we will launch counter actions to block Geneva. And we will call all elected officials of Chablais, all Chablaisiens and Chablaisiennes, to join us on Swiss territory.”

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The Local 2020/01/14 16:23

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